Let’s ‘Bee’ Serious

Emily Triebwasser

By Emily Triebwasser

Entertainment Editor

It is an unseasonably warm Friday autumn morning. I turn a corner onto a quiet street in the historical district of Old City Philadelphia to be greeted by a red carpet. Scratch that.

It was a yellow-and-black striped carpet with matching balloons and throngs of photographers and reporters waiting for the big moment when he was to arrive.

I was in the right place.

This is the day that Jerry Seinfeld, along with directors Simon J. Smith and Steve Hickner, is in the city of brotherly love to promote their new film, “Bee Movie.”

We begin the day in a small movie theater when Seinfeld first gives a small introductory speech to a star-struck crowd and shortly thereafter plays exclusive clips from “Bee Movie.”

This, we are told, is an exciting opportunity, as they have finished production only five days prior.

“Bee Movie” follows Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld), a bee fresh out of college and about to begin his life working in the honey business at the big factory Honex.

Determined to witness life outside the hive, he ventures out and meets Vanessa (Renee Zellweger), a beautiful and compassionate human. Breaking a cardinal rule, he speaks to her, and they become fast friends.

Barry soon discovers that people package and sell honey, a concept that infuriates him. He begins an anti-honey crusade and rides this wave until the conclusion of the film.

In short, the film will be the next “Shrek.” Family friendly and softly animated, it also contains adult humor that is undoubtedly the “Jerry Seinfeld touch.”

For example, when Barry tells his parents that he met a human woman, his mother (Kathy Bates) remarks, “I hope she’s Bee-ish!” This is an obvious reference to a Jewish mother hoping her son will keep the faith.

Adult viewers will remember this type of humor from the beloved sitcom “Seinfeld” and sigh with relief that it’s back.

It doesn’t even matter that he’s in bee form; Jerry Seinfeld is back.

After the film, I partake in a press conference with Seinfeld, Smith and Hickner. Immediately, Seinfeld is bombarded with interrogations about his future plans on television.

“That’s a very flattering question,” he says, “but will I make another TV show? Well … I’m old, I’m rich and I’m tired. I’m not yet bored of sitting on my ass.” His humor shines through every word he says.

He tells the crowd that he has three young children, but did this have any impact on his decision to make a family film?

“Hmm. Did my small children inspire me to make a family film aimed primarily toward children … no,” he responds.

Two sarcastic remarks in a row; this is golden.

“Actually, ‘Bee Movie’ started as a joke,” he continues.

“I was having lunch with Steven Spielberg, and I thought it would be funny if I made a movie about bees called ‘Bee Movie.’

“I wasn’t serious, but he loved it. Had it been a different day, the movie probably would never have been made.”

If you happen to meet Seinfeld, do not ask him if he modeled Barry after himself.

“Barry the bee was inspired by Benjamin Braddock in ‘The Graduate,’ ” he asserts. “It’s my favorite movie.”

Smith and Hickner join in by singing the crew’s praises.

“The voiceovers were done wonderfully,” Hickner says.

“The microphones were invisible on the stars, and they all acted their scenes together. It’s fantastic to see.”

“Jerry knows the whole story, and he was there the whole time,” Smith continues.

Seinfeld ends with his proposed message for the film:

“There is a message I tried to instill, but I don’t think people are getting it.

“It is really important to do your job well. One little task is not much, but if you do it well, it adds up to a big thing.”

“Bee Movie” opens everywhere Nov. 2.